With a heavy heart, I pressed the digits on the keypad for my garage door and headed out for a run.
And as I made my way down the street, I struggled to find the right words to justify the fairness or sense in the pain many friends are feeling: one of our own was the innocent victim of a very tragic accident.
On a few occasions, as our circle of friends intertwined, Dave Hawkinson and myself crossed paths. They were friendly and pleasant encounters, and many of my friends recall him as a terrific person. He was memorable and made a positive impact in many people’s lives.
Unfortunately, he died after a car struck his bicycle on a rural stretch of highway near Grandin, N.D., on Saturday. You can read the story here. By all accounts, Dave had done everything right. He couldn’t have done anything differently. And cyclists will continue to ride that stretch of road.
My thoughts and prayers are extended to his wife, Amy, and family, and those who knew Dave much better than myself. He was a light and gift to those who knew him, and his legacy will serve to making many people better off for knowing him. My heart aches for those who knew Dave well.
Tonight, like many other outings on the run, it became painfully obvious: so many people behind the wheel of their vehicles are driving distracted. In two- and three-ton vehicles. And it’s clear that so few people really stop to think about what it is they’re doing, and how life can change in an instant.
Perhaps runners and cyclists understand this better than most.
We have to share the road with others, especially those in steel boxes with wheels. And maybe that’s why I always wave, in gratitude, to those who are willing to move over and give me a few extra feet of space on the road. They may do it out of courtesy, or because there really isn’t much room. Yes, I always try to hug the side of the road, because I’m going to lose the battle every time with a vehicle. But I want to let passing motorists – at least those willing to grant me some space – that I appreciate the gesture. At the same time, though, I can see those who are are looking down at their phones, reading or writing texts, or chatting without paying attention to the road. Or fumbling with their sunglasses or too engaged in conversation with others in the car. It is all too obvious that most people are simply not that attentive to driving.
The simple truth is that there’s almost no way to avoid encounters with drivers. We all make choices. Drivers decide whether to allow themselves to be distracted on the road. Endurance athletes can mitigate the risks, but ultimately, must choose whether the risk is worth the reward. We can’t live in fear of running or riding the roads, but we can educate others about the consequences of distracted driving.